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Criminally DIRTY

Along with the core PPE equipment we utilise specialist pieces of equipment including an ozone generator. This system literally sucks the air into the machine, where it is sanitised of any pathogens before releasing it back into the room. This in turn eliminates any unpleasant odours which are a typical problem in scenes of undiscovered deaths. These developments in technology are an important part of our service, as it allows us to keep disposal of waste to a minimum without compromising the standard of sanitation we need to achieve to make the environment safe.

Another specialist service we offer is Exodus UVL treatments, which are used in the elimination of pests. These aren’t used in every trauma clean however they can be required at extreme environmental cleans where things like fleas are present, as it’s impossible to tell with the naked eye if they have been eliminated. These naturally need to be completely removed in order to complete the sanitation of the property.

Similarly, we use a ‘wet vacuum’ which, as the name suggests, allows us to vacuum liquids rather than dry substances. It’s a simple concept, but this type of equipment is crucial in managing hazardous fluids and minimising our contact with them. We have also used the item to eliminate other hazards including during a recent undiscovered death involving an infestation of literally thousands of maggots. The equipment was invaluable in ensuring that not a single one was left behind and breaking the cycle of re-infestation.

We use specific disposal methods when dealing with waste from a trauma or environmental clean. As we are dealing with hazardous items, we need to consider not only our own safety but that of those handling the waste once it has been sent for final disposal. Therefore we use specialist items including yellow boxes for needles and orange ‘biohazard’ bags for contaminated materials, cleaning equipment and PPE, which is disposed of via incineration.

We have also been faced with situations where we need to remove large items including a scenario where an undiscovered death had occurred on a bed. The body had remained for a number of weeks and had begun to liquefy, meaning that mattress and surrounding area were heavily contaminated.

In this scenario, the item was carefully wrapped in polyurethane to ensure it was sealed and wouldn’t contaminate the van during transportation for incineration.

Our role involves striking a careful balance between what we dispose of and the methods we use. Recycling is an essential part of our business and how we practise, so we ensure that we minimise how much waste is sent for incineration where we can. For example, if we were at a site with a bloodstained carpet, we’d remove and incinerate the section which was contaminated and then recycle the larger carpet and the ozone treatments assist with this.

You need to be adequately trained before approaching a trauma scene and to that end all of our team are qualified under the National Academy of Crime Scene Cleaning (NACSC). The course provides the key foundations for what they need to be thinking about, ranging from things like health and safety considerations to knowing signs of contamination to look for when approaching a scene. For example; to the untrained eye a small patch of blood on a carpet can be harbouring a much larger stain underneath it and you can’t let something like that go amiss as even a single drop of bodily fluid could pose an infection risk.

Naturally, when approaching a trauma scene, we use a broad selection of chemicals including hospital grade disinfectants and solvents for removing dried blood. It’s key to ensure that the team are up to speed with these products, not only to ensure that they are used in the correct way, but to ensure the safety of the team when using them, so we hold regular practical demonstrations and briefings.

One element that can’t be learnt however is how to deal with the emotional side. The types of scenes we face in a trauma clean always have a human connection, therefore the details are usually very sensitive and we often find ourselves working closely with agencies such as the police and social services. We have, for example, been faced with scenarios where a person has passed away and remained undiscovered simply because they have no family or friends to question their disappearance.

Similarly, we have worked on projects that involve us working very carefully in the contaminated area, whilst leaving other parts of the house untouched in order to allow the family of the deceased to enter the property safely. You do naturally think about the story behind the project and it can be something that stays with you. However, we instil a strict code of professionalism amongst the team which ultimately keeps us focused on completing the job to the very highest standard.

About Sarah OBeirne


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